Resignations ‘were valid’

THREE members of the Morwell and District Community Recovery Group have quit at an “interesting time” as the group transitions to a community-led organisation structure.

The former CFA-led Hazelwood Mine Fire Community Advisory Group was set up to communicate the needs of the community to relevant government agencies in the wake of the mine fire.

It became known as the Community Recovery Group on 20 June, with Latrobe City Council playing a secretariat role.

The members’ departures, including Morwell Neighbourhood House coordinator Tracie Lund and Gippsland Multicultural Services director Lisa Sinha last week, has raised questions about the group’s effectiveness.

Latrobe City Council recovery manager and ex-officio member Jodie Pitkin said the timing was interesting, but the resignations were valid.

Ms Pitkin said one of the members was new to the committee and decided she could not provide the time and two professional members decided to contribute as professional members of the community in other areas.

“Three in one week was unfortunate, but they’ve made those decisions based on their capacity and their own self-assessment and where their efforts were best spent for the maximum long term benefit for the community,” Ms Pitkin said.

Ms Lund said she needed to make a choice about where her time was best spent and believed she could be more productive on one of the Community Recovery Committee sub-committees, the Social and Community Sub Committee.

She is also a member of the GDF SUEZ Community Social Capital Committee.

Ms Lund said there had been challenges within the group considering most recovery groups were formed in an emergency situation to service a smaller community.

“There are challenges with a larger community like Morwell, and representing a community of about 14,000, amongst other challenges.”

Ms Sinha said she joined the Community Advisory Group at the invitation of CFA Gippsland regional director Mark Potter.

She said when the committee was still the Community Advisory Group it had developed all kinds of priorities for the community after the fire, but the group’s role had become more complex.

“I’ll continue to raise and address issues and concerns of the migrant and refugee community,” Ms Sinha said.

The Express attempted to speak with CRC chair, Carolyne Boothman before going to print, but was unsuccessful.